NSW Budget – What does it mean for ASU members? Our sector, our communities, the people we support?
Most experts agree that this year’s NSW Government budget does not do enough to address housing stress in NSW.
There is NO money for the $1 billion infrastructure fund for social housing that NCOSS, Infrastructure NSW and the Government announced before the election. As the ASU noted at the time, no money was attached to that MOU, nor is any money allocated to it in this budget – the closest thing to a commitment is the assurance that “planning is underway to develop a new social and affordable housing fund, to unlock approximately $1 billion of new investment.”
Despite the inclusion of a minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Cabinet, it is disappointing to see no new money allocated to the prevention of domestic violence in NSW and no money at all for the prevention of rape and sexual assault.
There are much publicised and praised investments in concessions and rebates – particularly for energy and water bills, but this ignores the simple fact that subsidies and rebates are designed to reduce access not to enable it.
There is also an increase in funding for people with disabilities and for aged care, but little certainty beyond 2016. FACS has also received a funding boost of 7% but given the slashing of funding from the federal government, the Going Home Staying Home debacle and indexation of 2.5% this is simply not enough to address increased demand for social and community services.
The government has maintained its interest in social impact investment too – and this will pose challenges for organisations attempting to access funding in this way.
There have been a number of reviews slated for SACS and we are still unsure about the process for them. What we do know is that it looks like Targeted Early Intervention and Prevention review is being extended (although it is likely to kick off shortly) and funding will roll over into 2016/2017.
While the government is spending, and we welcome investment in infrastructure broadly and in public transport, country rail and freight rail in particular, it is important to note that the budget is balanced on the stamp duty windfall, and so reliant on the extraordinary property prices in Sydney. Also there are real concerns about how the government is going to address the federal funding cuts not only in SACS but also in health that are going to hit NSW hard next month.
Below is a breakdown of some of the specific funding allocations:
Social and Community Services
Domestic and Family Violence
No new money has been allocated to this new portfolio area and none of the money allocated is to address the prevention of sexual assault.
- $148.4 million over 4 years for a “whole of government” approach to domestic violence including:
- expanding the Safer Pathways program
- piloting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme
- $33 million for the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program
- In 2015-2016 the Government has allocated:
- $10.4 million in 2015-2016 for Start Safely
- $2.6 million for Safer Pathways
- $1.6 million to the Domestic Violence Assistance Line
- $3.6 million to the Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service
- $3.3 billion for 2015-2016 including:
- $7.3 funding to support the accelerated transition to NDIS in Penrith and the Blue Mountains
- $28 million to assist to redeveloping accommodation in the Hunter Valley for people with a disability
- $219.6 million for the community supports program
- Four peak aged care bodies have had their funding extended for 12 months
- $400 million for housing infrastructure through the Housing Acceleration Fund.
- $75.7 million to provide subsidies for clients to access the private rental market
- $12.4 million for community providers to maintain properties
- $6 million for the government to maintain public housing properties
- $28.4 million to maintain properties for Aboriginal community housing sector in NSW
- $182 million for specialist homelessness services
- $45.4 million for Community Building Partnership Program.
- $12 million over four years for community transport
There was some big spending in transport infrastructure and while major road projects like Westconnex were the big beneficiaries, public transport also received some boosts including:
- $17 million to build a new dual berth ferry wharf at Barangaroo
- $12 million for new first fleet-style ferries
- $2 million for four new Parramatta River ferries
- $70 million to upgrade NSW grain rail network
- $400 million for upgrade of country rail
- 1.2 billion for the maintenance of Sydney rail assets
- $74 million to progress the development of a new rail operations centre
- $17 million for advanced train control systems
- $5 million for the Cargo Movement Coordination Centre
There have been some modest increases for Sydney Water and Water NSW and a slight decrease in funding for Hunter Water. The Other funding affecting water in NSW includes:
- $130 million for water saving infrastructure projects (allocated out of the federal government’s Water for the Future program)
- $10.5 million over 3 years (with additional funds allocated in the last budget from Restart NSW) towards Broken Hill’s emergency water supply works including a new desalination plant
- $743 million to deliver water and waste water in to service new urban development areas in the north and south west.
Very little in the budget directly related to airlines or Sydney’s airports but there was a $164 million allocation to upgrade roads around Badgery’s Creek in preparation for the second airport. There is also a small allocation to upgrade roads around Kingsford Smith airport too.
Proceeds from the sell-off of poles and wires were not included in the budget estimates this year, but the confidence the liberals have in the proposal no doubt contributed to their willingness to spend. That confidence is not shared by Treasury and you can read about the NSW’s Treasury’s concerns about sell off here.
NSW Government is also planning to sell off the rest of the electricity generation network as a strategic priority and the Sydney Desalination plant and Port Botany, Port Kembla and Newcastle Port.